The Princess and The Pauper

a hospital room in Ottawa, Canada,
is declared extraterritorial
so the only royal child born in Canada,
Princess Margriet, could maintain her Dutch lineage
she is named after the daisy, flower of the resistance

away, the Princess is carried away, far away
to her homeland, a country foreign to her
her memories of her earliest time in Canada
filled in with the stories and photographs taken by others

Zwartsluis, Netherlands
I’m born at home, in a room, territorially Dutch
scent of salt ocean, creak of windmills, and visions of
daisy parades flood my senses yet I’m away
before they become my earliest memories

away, I’m carried far away onto the Groote Beer,
an immigrant ship set for Canada
in Montreal I’m carried away, far away by a black train
set for Edmonton, Alberta

I hear the story of the Princess and in the convoluted
logic of my child’s heart leap into re-enacting
our swap at birth, each stolen from our birthplace
our reunion when we uncover the truth

I was not yet home in this away, some preverbal
loneliness for the birth smells of ocean drove my play
an ache to have the full fleshed memories my family had
rather than a still image of me in a handful of flat photographs

away is home in me now
wild rose, Indian paint brush, tumbleweeds, dust devils,
scent of campfires, silver mountain peaks and
the burgundy juice of wild Saskatoon berries
flow in my arteries where ocean once swirled

the land has settled me though the sight of a field of
daisies can still startle me to joy

~ Fenna Schaapman

In 2002, Fenna ScSchaapmpman, initiated a poetry contest and concert called, “Toward The Light.” By /2006, with her partner Deb Clay, it had evolved into an independent literary journal titled, Toward The Light: Journal of Reflective Word & Image. It was created as a venue for those who write beyond clichés of dark and light. Also in 2002 she won first prize in the 2002 Odes of March poetry contest. Her work has appeared in publications such as Presence: An International Journal of Spiritual Direction, Salvo: 2003, Calgary Stroll of Poets Anthology and Prairie Messenger. She was the 2004 President of The Society of Poets, Bards and Storytellers, Calgary. In 2005 her chapbook of poetry, Songs My Shadow Sings Me was published by ifpress.

“On a driving trip some time ago I was captivated by fields of white daisies. They brought up memories of my mother, who died in 2001, as they were one of her favourite flowers. She called them margriets and had mentioned wearing them in the Netherlands. She loved to walk through fields of them. This memory started a thread of memories and especially the one of myself pretending that I’d been swapped at birth with Princess Margriet.”

Editor’s note: This poem is from Home and Away – a sequel to the bestselling Writing the Land (2007). Look for one poet to be featured each day as Alberta poets ponder the question “what is home?” and explore our complex relationship with working on, living with, exploiting and protecting our land and our home. For more information about the project, click here.

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